Saint Sexburga
Born c. early 7th century, Kent, England
Died July 6, 699
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church; Anglican Communion
Canonized Pre-Congregation
Feast July 6

Saint Seaxburh or Saint Sexburga of Ely (died c. 699) was an Anglo-Saxon king's daughter, an Abbess and saint of the Christian Church.

Seaxburh was one of four daughters of King Anna of East Anglia. Her sisters were Saint Æthelburg of Faremoutier and Saint Saethryth, who were both abbesses of Faremoutiers Abbey in Brie, Æthelthryth who was abbess of Ely and Withburga, an abbess of East Dereham.

Seaxburh married Eorcenberht of Kent. She had two sons, Ecgberht and Hlothhere, who both became kings of Kent, and two daughters who were eventually canonised: Saint Ercongota, a nun at Faremoutiers, and Ermenilda, who married Wulfhere, King of Mercia, and after his death became a nun at Ely and eventually succeeded her sister as abbess.

After the death of her husband on July 14, 664, she ruled Kent until her son came of age. Thereafter, Seaxburh became a nun and founded the abbey of Minster-in-Sheppey. Shortly afterwards she moved to Ely to join her sister Æthelthryth in the monastery for men and women she had founded there.[1]. Æthelthryth died around 679 and Seaxburh was elected abbess in her place. In a vivid demonstration of the dynastic value of the cult of royal saints in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, in 695, Bede recorded later, she organised the translation of St. Etheldreda's relics, which were discovered to be incorrupt, to a new shrine she had erected for her at Ely, which included a sarcophagus of white marble[2] from the Roman ruins at Grantchester.[3]

The date of her death is not known for sure, but she is buried in Ely. St Sexburga's feast day is celebrated on July 6. An accessible source for her hagiography in the context of the Kentish royal legend is Rosalind C. Love, ed., Goscelin of Saint-Bertin: The Hagiography of the Female Saints of Ely (Oxford Medieval Texts)

See also



  1. It was the precursor to the Cathedral of Ely.
  2. "the miraculous discovery of a suitable coffin is, however, a hagiographic commonplace," observes John Crook of this occasion (John Crook, "The Architectural Setting of the Cult of Saints in the Early Christian West," Oxford University Press, 2000, p. 78
  3. Richard John King, Handbook to the Cathedrals of England-Ely Cathedral, part II

This article incorporates text from the entry St. Sexburga in Catholic Encyclopedia of 1913, a publication now in the public domain.eo:Seaxburh (Ely)

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